What is it that drives high participation rates in regional sports? Is it the old misnomer that there’s nothing to do here? Is it boredom or keeping kids ‘out of trouble’, burning off energy or being healthy? Is it the connection and sense of community that comes through club membership?
Sport teaches teamwork, civic responsibility, fundraising and a sense of accomplishment. Whatever the reason behind joining a club or code, its benefits are clear and its participants passionate.
What may be a little more surprising is how many elite sporting legends have come from the Bundaberg Region, and how many sporting stars hide here in plain sight.
Between 8am and 3pm, Taryn Gollshewsky is simply ‘Miss G’ at St Patricks Catholic School. Out of hours, the physical education teacher is an Olympic hopeful. She represented Australia twice in discus at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and 2018. It’s a unique experience for students to see their teacher competing on a world stage.
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Connie Rixon (pictured) will be seeking selection for a second time with the Malta Lawn Bowls team ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. An unusual sporting choice for someone so young, the 24-year-old marketing co-ordinator said the game was surprisingly competitive. She said it’s also the social aspect, friendliness and community of the bowling network that kept her interest in the sport alive.
Other high achievers reside a little further afield.
Les Kiss began his sporting career in rugby league, playing for North Sydney Bears as well four State of Origin games for Queensland and four tests for Australia. After coaching London Broncos he switched codes to rubgy union. As defensive coach for Ireland, in 2009 he helped the team achieve their first victory in 61 years. He is now head coach for London Irish.
Soccer goalkeeper Mitch Langerak played for Melbourne Victory in the A League, before signing with German powerhouse Dortmund Borussia. Mitch now plays in the Japan league and has represented the Socceroos eight times.
These tales are inspiring legacies for young hopefuls. But there are also plenty of young, up-and-comers, like Kurtis Peall (pictured), who are proof that age and geography are no barrier to pursuing your passion. At 15-years-old, Kurtis Peall has been racing junior sedans for eight years, travelling weekends to compete at club shows, state titles and Australian titles. He’s gearing up for national titles again in April and a week later he’ll compete in the Victorian titles. His determination for a title is matched only by his love of the sport, which he shares with his family.
More of Bundy’s best sporting exports
- Mick, Alec and Henry Bolewski – Rugby league
- Clint Bolton – Soccer
- Josh Brillante – Soccer
- Issac Cooper – Swimming
- Allan Davis – Cycling
- Simon Doyle – Athletics (running)
- Bill Drews – Cycling
- Tom Edgar – Volleyball
- Troy Elder – Hockey
- Noel Hazzard – Rugby league
- Bill, Monty and Harold Heidke – Rugby league
- Antonio Kaufusi – Rugby league
- Felise Kaufusi – Rugby league
- Steven Keir – Volleyball
- Rosemary Lassig – Swimming
- Emma McCarthy – Rowing
- Rheed McCracken – Paralympian
- Tom Miles – Sprinter
- Tracey Oliver – Swimming
- Anita Palm-Spring – Beach volleyball, volleyball and softball
- Michelle Pearson – Swimming
- Chris Pitt – Paralympian
- Daniel Ronan – Volleyball
- Samantha Scmidt – Athletics (discus)
- Emma Sheers – Water skiing
- Michelle Steele – Skeleton
- Don Tallon – Cricket
- Joe Williamson – Bobsled
- Chantel Wolfenden – Swimming
- Hannah Ogden – Lawn bowls
- Emma Zielke – AFL
Special thanks to local sports fanatic, Councillor Vince Habberman